tv Martin Bashir MSNBC December 6, 2013 1:00pm-2:01pm PST
an end. that 27 years as prisoner 4664 shows him to be about undying optimism, and unbreakable resilien resilience. and as governor mario cuomo said, the indestructibility of the human spirit. how you can chain a body but can't lock down a spirit that's big and that powerful and that driven by love. thanks for watching "the cycle." up next, a special encore of last night's chris matthews interviewing the president. we'll see you monday. i promised you the president of the united states, and he's here. let's play "hardball."
♪ >> well, thank you, mr. president. and thank you, dr. neil kerwynn of the american university for having us today. >> good to see you. >> so what brought you to "hardball"? >> american university. "hardball" was just an excuse to hang out with these fine young people. i've had wonderful experiences here. first time i spoke was when i was running for presidency, and ted kennedy announced his endorsement here. and obviously, he was an incredible friend and spoken here about immigration. and so i just always have a wonderful interaction with the young people here. they're doing a great job. >> well, let's play "hardball." >> let's do it. >> you have a great audience here of college-age people and graduate students and faculty.
there is resistance there, seen it in polls to enrolling in the exchanges and to get involved in taking responsibility for their health care. what's your argument why they should do that. >> first of all, i understand why people would have been resistant to go on a website that wasn't working right. and fortunately, because of some very hard work, we have now got it to the point where for the vast majority of people, it's working well. and my message to young people is take a look for yourself. the truth is that most college-age students, because of the law, can stay on their parents' plan. and that may be the best deal for them. we have already insured about 3 million people. ask your first job where you don't have full health insurance benefits may mean that you stay on your parents' plan a little longer. but at some point, let's say when you turn 26, if you're between jobs or you've got a passion, you want to start a
business, and you're not going to have health insurance, this gives you the opportunity to get high-quality health insurance, and for most people under 30, it's probably going to cost less than your cell phone bill or cable bill. less than 100 bugs. and, you know there was a time when i looked healthy like these folks and thought i was never going to get sick. what you discover is that some tough stuff happens. you have a run of bad luck. you suddenly need hospitalization. you have an accident. you get an illness. and for young people to recognize that it is in their financial interest and their health interest to be able to get ongoing preventive care. to be able to get free contraception and, you know, benefits that -- like mammograms that allow them to maintain their health throughout their lives without fear of going bankrupt or making their family
bankrupt if they get sick, that's something that's pricelesses. and i think most young people are going to recognize that. so my advice to everybody is, the website is now working. go to healthcare.gov. take a look for oh yourself. in your state. what's available to you. there is no reason why you should not have health insurance. and, by the way, if you don't get health insurance and then you get in an accident, the rest of us end up paying for it. because the hospitals -- they end up essentially charging folks with insurance an average of about $1,000 per family in hidden subsidies for the people who don't have health insurance. that's part of what we're trying to eliminate. >> when you saw the front page of the "washington post" today with the story about the national security agency, basically patrolling all of the cell phones in the world, basically, a lot of young people point to the privacy requirements. they don't like being part of anything that's collecting information. health care. is this going to be one of the detriments to people wanting to sign up?
they want to keep their privacy? >> first of all, health care is entirely different. it's more similar to seniors who sign up for medicare or people who file their taxes. you know, there are a whole bunch of things where you're providing information to the government. it's protected. it's governed by a whole series of laws. the nsa issue is a broader issue. you're right. young people rightly are sensitive to the needs to preserve their privacy and maintain internet freedom. and, by the way, so am i. that's part of not just our first amendment rights, and expectations in this country, but it's particularly something that young people care about, because they spend so much time texting and, you know, instagraming and -- vining. there's -- something is coming up every single day. so all of us spend more and more of our lives in cyberspace. now, the challenge is, first of all, we do have people trying to
hurt us. and they communicate through these same systems. and if we're going to do a good job preventing terrorist attack in this country, a weapon of mass destruction, getting on to the new york subway system, et cetera, we do want to keep eyes on some bad actors. the second thing is that the same cyberspace that gives us all this incredible information and allows us to reach out around the world, also makes our bank accounts vulnerable, cyber crime is a huge problem and growing problem. and so we've got to be in there in some way to help protect the american people, even as we're also making sure that government doesn't abuse it. now, i think -- i can't confirm or get into the details of every aspect of what the nsa does. and the way this has been reported, the snowden disclosures have identified some areas of legitimate concern.
some of it has also been highly sensationalized. and has been painted in a way that's not accurate. i've said before, and is i will say again. the nsa actually does a very good job about not engaging in domestic surveillance. not reading people's e-mails. not listening to the content of their phone calls. outside of our borders, the nsa is more aggressive. it's not constrained by laws. and part of what we're trying to do over the next month or so is having done an independent review and brought a whole bunch of folks, civil libertarians and lawyers and others to examine what's being done. i'll be proposing some self-restraint on the nsa. and, you know, to initiate some reforms that can give people more confidence. but i want everybody to be clear, the people of the nsa
generally are looking out for the safety of the american people. they are not interested in reading your e-mails. they're not interested in reading your text messages. and that's not something that's done. and we have got a big system of checks and balances, including the courts and congress who have the capacity to prevent that from happening. >> mr. president, let's look at that question of confidence and trusted government. 50 years ago, in june of 1963, president john f. kennedy spoke here at the american university. let's listen to something that he said at that moment, which i think applies to the situation we're in this country now politically. let's watch. >> our problems are man-made. therefore, they can be solved by man. and man can be as big as he want. no problem of human destiny is beyond human beings. man's reason and spirit have often solved seemingly unsolvable. and we believe they can do it again. >> how do we get back to that
confidence that we can solve our man-made problems and other problems? >> well, you know, i have that confidence. you know, we've gone through a tough time over the last five years, and most of the young people who are here today have come of age during as difficult a period as we have seen in our modern history. we went through the worst financial crisis since the great depression. wars. the 9/11 generation remembers the trauma of that event. and yet if you look at it, we have now ended the war in iraq. we're about to end the war in afghanistan. we have begun a recovery that is not yet complete coming out of the financial crisis. but the job market is getting better. our economy is improving. we have doubled our production of clean energy.
doubled our production of traditional energy sources. we are on the brink of being as close to energy independent as any country our size could be in a very long time. we still have the best universities on earth, best researches and scientists on earth and most innovative companies on earth. and we're still the envy of the world and the one indispensable nation. i continue to have great confidence in our capacity to solve our problems. there is a specific challenge that we've got. and that is a congress. and this city, washington, that is grid locked and spends too much time worrying about the next election, and not enough time worrying about the next generation. and you know, the solution to that is ultimately what was envisioned by our founders and what jack kennedy understood, as well. and that's the american people. you know, we go through these
periods where our politics gets all boll objectioned up. and sometimes we're nostalgic about the past. >> i am. >> i know you are. but the truth of the matter is, when you look at our history, there have been a lot of times when congress gets stuck. but we get through it. and the reason we get through it, ultimately, the american people have pretty good instincts. and if over and over again, they see that we're not addressing the core problems we have, eventually they will put in place folks who are serious about getting the work done. >> let's talk about the problem with the legislative branch. the other day, speaker boehner said that we can't get anything done because we have a divided country, a divided congress. but that's the nature of america. they have an aisle down the middle of the senate, down the middle of the house. they have always been there. we have rarely had one party in power more than a year or two.
the country doesn't want that, generally. we stuck with this, as long as we have two parties running our government, they can't compromise. they used to compromise. my argument is, in the old days, they would compromise and then blame the other party for the parts of the compromise they didn't like. today, they don't compromise. and blame the other party. why not strike a deal and then you can blame painer for the parts you don't like, and he can blame for parts he doesn't like. >> couple things, first of all -- >> why not compromise? >> i think it's fair to say i have always been prepared to not only negotiate, but to go ahead and push forward on principled compromises. in fact, sometimes on your station, msnbc, i've been blasted for being too willing to compromise. so the problem is not generally speaking on the democratic side. and obviously, i'm partisan here. but objectively, i think you can look at it and say that the big challenge we've got is you've got a faction of the republican
party that sees compromise as a dirty word. that has moved so far to the right that it would be difficult for a ronald reagan to win the nomination for the republican party at this point. and as a consequence, it is more challenging. but a couple things i just want to point out -- >> you've got three-and-a-half more years to deal with this situation. >> a couple things i would point out. first of all, in our history, usually when we made big progress on issues, it actually has been when one party controlled the government for a period of time. i mean, the big strides we made in the new deal, the big strides we made with the great society, those were times where you had a big majority. and when ronald reagan made changes in the direction of a more republican agenda, it was when he had a majority. what you're right about, though, is that when we have divided government, most of the time
there's about 70%, 80% overlap between the parties. we're not like some countries that -- where you actually have a socialist party on one hand and a ultra conservative party on the other hand. most of the time, we're playing between the 40 yard line here. so my argument to boehner and mcconnell and everybody else up there is, let's go ahead and have big arguments on the things we disagree about. but why don't we go ahead and work on the things we do agree about and a classic example of this is immigration reform. we know that the majority of the american people think the system is broken. we now have a vote out of the senate, both democrats and republicans voting for a common sense bill that would strengthen our borders that would fix the legal immigration system, make it easier for talent to come here and work hard and become part of america. and that would hold companies accountable when they're hiring
undocumented workers and taking advantage of them. oh, and by the way, would deal with the 11 million people in the shadows right now. now, we've got a majority of the american people who think it's a good idea and a majority of the senate, including republicans, who think it's a good idea. the only thing that's stopping it at this point is what i mentioned earlier. a faction in the house republican party that is resistant. i continue to be optimistic we'll get it done. and i think john boehner is sincere about getting it done. >> didn't he just say we won't do it in '14? today? >> well, i think that there's so much focus on the politics of the base, and republicans being worried about getting challenged during the primary season, that that inhibits a lot of cooperation that is there. and i actually think there are a bunch of republicans who want to get stuff done. they've got to be embarrassed. because the truth of the matter is, is that they have now been in charge of the house of
representatives, one branch of -- or one chamber and one branch of government, for a couple years now. and they just don't have a lot to show for it. >> let's talk about the executive branch, which you control. the -- back in 1964, we looked it up you. pew study. 76% of the american people believed that most of the time, almost always, the federal government did the right thing. now it's down to less than 20%. the trust question. the commitments you made before the rollout with health care. what is it? what is it that's just -- it's a serial decline, mr. president. it keeps going down. i know we had watergate, the vietnam war, of course all that together. but what's going to stop and arrest that decline of faith in you doing the right thing, you being honest? anybody who is president, this skepticism out there? >> the cynicism and skepticism is deep. and i distinguish between, you
know, just management of government, and the basic blocking and tackling of getting stuff done to help the american people. and then the ability to move big policy changes that are going to help more oh americans. when it comes to the management of government, part of the reason people are so skeptical is that when we do things right, they don't get a lot of attention. if we do something that is perceived at least initially as a screw-up, it will be on the nightly news for a week. so let's take the example of the federal emergency management agency. fema. we have got a guy who has been in charge, craig fugate, who has managed as many natural disasters over the last five years as just about anybody. and has done a flawless job. >> so he's really doing a good job. unlike his predecessor. >> he is -- he's doing a heck of a job.
this guy -- and that's not just my opinion. that's the opinion of every governor and mayor that works with him. including republicans. well, nobody knows who this guy is. and if, in fact, we go in after sandy or after the tornadoes in oklahoma or missouri and we're helping a lot of people effectively and quickly and they're getting what they need, nobody hears about that. that's not something that's reported about. if, on the other, you've got an office in cincinnati in the irs office that i think for bureaucratic reasons is trying to streamline what is a difficult law to interpret about whether nonprofit is actually a political organization, deserves a tax-exempt agency and they've got a list. suddenly, everybody is outraged. >> 501(c)(4) is tricky to begin with. >> and by the way, chris, i'll point out, there are some
so-called progressives, and, you know, perceived to be liberal commentators, who during that week just were outraged at the possibility that these folks, you know, had been -- at the direction of the democratic party in some way discriminated against tea party folks. and, you know, that is what gets news. that's what gets attention. now, here's what i will say. there are a couple million people working for the federal government. and i remember bob gates, my former secretary of defense, wonderful public servant, had served under seven presidents. when i first came in, i asked him, so, bob, you got any advice for me? he says, mr. president, just understand, you've got a lot of people working for you. somebody somewhere at this very moment is screwing something up. and that's true. and so i -- so i have to
consistently push on every cabinet secretary, on every single he agency, how can we do things better. and we can do things better. part of what we need to do is reorganize the government, which was designed primarily in 1935 or '45. we could consolidate agencies, we have got to do a much better job as everybody has learned, buying information technologies. you know, how we make ourselves more customer-friendly. those are all things that we can improve. but the up shot is, the government still does a lot of good. and the last point i'll make on this is, you know, we've had a politics, frankly, you know -- the entire republican party brand over -- since ronald reagan, has been government is the problem. and if you, day after day, week after week, election after election, are running on that
platform, and that permeates our culture, and it's picked up by, you know, ordinary citizens who grow skeptical, then it's not surprising that over time trust in government declines. but as i said in a speech yesterday, the biggest issue that i see out in the horizon is how do we make sure an economy works for everybody. and that every one of these young people can get a good job, pursue a career, support a family, not be loaded up by $100,000 worth of debt. actually, you know, buy a home. how do we do those things that reduce inequality in our society and broaden opportunity. and government can't solve all of that. and we live in an economy that is global and technological, and is changing faster than ever before in history. but government can't stand on the sidelines when we're doing that. and without some faith in our capacity for collective action, those trends are going to get worse. so we've got to -- and the young
people in particular, have to understand, government is us. government is not somebody else. government is us. we have the capacity to change it. and voters have the capacity to change it. members of congress do. as well as the president. >> let's talk about the chief executive. you. and let's talk about a lot of these young people came here to study government and how it can be run. there's all kinds of theories how to be president of the united states. spokes of the wheel method, which kennedy used, where he had direct contact with his cabinet secretaries and speech writers all of the time. and then the strong chief of staff, the military command system of general eisenhower as president, and jim baker. what concerned zeke emmanuel who work with you in health care the other day, there should have been a ceo assigned by you with unique personal responsibility to oversee the rollout of health care. and there wasn't. when secretary sebelius appeared and she was asked who was in charge, it took a while to answer, and she finally got to
the cms, it didn't seem like there was a strong top-down system from you. let's look forward here. do you have a relationship with your cabinet that you have a system of cracking the whip that they follow through, they execute as you envision they should, or do you work through a coo like mr. mcdonough? what is your system for management? >> first of all, i think it's important to distinguish between this particular project where it is obvious we needed additional controls because they didn't deliver on time how we wanted. and how we managed incredibly complex problems for the last five years. everything from wars, natural disasters to expanding student loans for young people.
generally speaking, my theory has been, number one, yes, i've got a strong chief of staff, but i'm holding every cabinet member accountable and i want to have strong interactions with them directly. number two, i have an open door policy where i want people to bring me bad news on time so we can fix things. the challenge going forward is not so much my perm management style or particular issues around the organization. it has to do with what i referred to earlier, we have these big agencies, some of which are outdated. we've got, for example, 16 different agencies that have some responsibility to help businesses large and small in all kinds of ways.
whether it's helping to finance them, helping them to export. and so if you're a small business person getting started, you may think you need to go to the small business administration on one thing. you've got to go to commerce on another. we've proposed let's consolidate a bunch of that stuff. the challenge we've got is that that requires a law to pass. and frankly there is a lot of members of congress who are chair of a particular committee. over certain aspects of certain policies. but this is going to be a major focus and has been over the last five years, but going forward over the next three years, how do we have a 21st century federal government? and this is part of the reason why people are skeptical. there are just some things people have an interaction with the federal government where we could be doing a much better job. some of them aren't federal. everybody has the experience of trying to get their driver's license. it takes a long time.
you know, why do you have to do a written driving test if you already have your license? i mean, there are just a whole bunch of things we could be using with the internet and new communication systems. and the more we can just reorganize the guts of how these agencies work, the easier it's going to be. because the white house is just a tiny part of what is a huge widespread organization with increasingly complex tasks in a complex world. >> let me ask you about something else. this is a twitter question from c. wilhelms. what can we do to stop the gop from rigging the votes state by state to disenfranchise voters and destroy our democracy? 36 states right now led by republican legislatures have been trying to make it difficult for minority people to vote in big cities and older people. everybody knows the game. republicans often admit the game to deny people the vote. what's your reaction? >> well, couple of things. you saw the lines we had not
only in '08 but in '12. some of these folks may have stood in line. i said on election night that's not acceptable in a democracy. that has been around as long as ours and the world looks to. so we immediately assigned by chief election lawyer and mitt romney's chief election lawyer to sit down with a group of experts and come up with a whole series of voter reforms. they're supposed to report back to me by the end of this year so early next year we're going to put forward what we know will be a bipartisan effort or a bipartisan proposal to encourage people to vote. you can't say you take pride in american democracy, american constitutionalism, american exceptionalism. so i think there's some common sense things we can do and i
won't preview the proposals because i haven't gotten them yet. keep in mind, though, for all the efforts that have been made and some of them, by the way, may be illegal. may violate the voting rights act even after the supreme court's recent ruling. and our justice department is going to be staying on them. if we have evidence that you have mechanisms that are specifically designed to discriminate against certain groups of voters, then the justice department will come down on them and file suit. the one point i want to make, though, is even with all the efforts that were made in the last election, folks still voted. and if people feel engaged enough and have a sense of a stake in our democracy, you know, you'll be able to vote. and our biggest problem right now is not the misguided efforts of some of these state legislatures.
our bigger problem is the one you alluded to earlier which is people in government can make a difference. even in the best of years, we still have about 40% of the population that's eligible to vote that chooses to opt out. they're not being turned away at the polls. they're turning themselves away from the polls. and that's something that we've got to get at. and young people in particular have a tendency to vote during presidential years. and then just are not excited at all during midterms. these midterm elections in many ways are more important because that's what's going to determine who's in charge of congress. and you may agree with me or disagree with me, but don't think it all ends with me. it's also important who's the speaker of the house and who's in charge of the senate. and i hope young people increasingly understand that. >> government dysfunction is now the number one concern even b more than the economy. thank you, mr. president. we'll be back with more with president obama from american university.
you're watching the "hardball" college tour from american university. >> there is not a liberal america and a conservative america. there is the united states of america. there is not a black america. and a white america. and latino america and asian america. there is the united states of america. honestly? no way did i think a tablet was gonna be a good deal. you're talking to the guy who hasn't approved a new stapler purchase in three years. but then i saw the new windows tablet, with a real keyboard, usb port, and full office. it's a tablet that works for work. plus, it's got apps and games, for after hours, of course. compared to an ipad -- way more value. these tablets are such a steal; i couldn't find a reason not to buy them. ♪ honestly, i wanna see you be brave ♪
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a week of special tributes planned for the anti apartheid leader who died thursday. and the u.s. is getting a one-two punch of snow and ice today. in dallas, power was knocked out to a quarter million customers. the winter weather is also causing delays at major u.s. airports. back to "hardball." i stand before you today to announce my candidacy for president of the united states of america. >> this is going to be remembered as one great day in american politics when barack obama with an american mother and a kenyan father, a graduate of the harvard law school, the president of the harvard law review, a senator in just his second year of office runs for
president of the united states and is already the number two candidate. >> we're back at the "hardball" college tour at american university. your remarks the other day was so resonant on what the holy father pope francis has been saying. the belief we have a social responsibility, a moral responsibility to look out for people who haven't made it in this country. >> yeah. there's no great religion that doesn't speak to this. at root, every great religion has some equivalent of the golden rule, some equivalent of the idea that i am my brother's keeper and my sister's keeper. some notion that even as we each take individual responsibility for acting in a responsible and righteous way, part of our
obligation is to the larger world. and to future generations. you know, i think pope francis is showing himself to be just an extraordinarily thoughtful and soulful messenger of peace and justice. i haven't had a chance to meet him yet. but everything that i've read, everything that i've seen from him indicates the degree to which he is trying to remind us of those core obligations. and as i said in my speech yesterday, we live in a economy that is the greatest generator of wealth in history. we're risk takers, we're entrepreneurs, and we're rugged individuals. that's part of what makes us great. that's why we continue to be a magnet for strivers from all around the world. they think i'm not going to be held back by conventions and traditions.
i'm going to go out there and i'm going to make it. and we want to maintain that sense of character. but what i always remind people is that what also built this country was a sense of community. and a sense of common endeavor. so whether it was building the transcontinental railroad or sending a man to the moon or helping to create the internet or curing diseases, we always understood that there's some things we do better together. and that we should take pride as a nation in our ability to work in concert. and if, in fact, we are helping to assure that that kid over there who's not my kid has a chance at a good education or that guy over there who i'm not related to has a chance at a decent job and a decent retirement, i'm going to be better off. i'm going to be living in a
society that is more cohesive and is going to create the kind of future for our kids that were all want. and that more than anything is at the core of the debate that i've been having with the republican party over the last several years. it's not just the details of the affordable care act or, you know, the minimum wage. because as i said yesterday in the speech, if you've got better ideas for achieving the same goal, put them out there. i'm not wedded to one particular way of doing things. but the central argument i have is we do have an obligation to each other. and there's some things we can do together. in fact, the big challenges we have whether it's immigration, climate change, an economy that works for everybody, improving our education system, making college more affordable,
competing in the world economy, dealing with questions of war and peace, those are not things that chris matthews or barack obama can solve by ourselves. by necessity we're going to have to do those together. and if we can at least agree on that and agree that our system of self-government allows us to come together to take on those big problems, then we can figure out the specific policies. that's where we can compromise and negotiate. but what i will not compromise on is the idea, for example, we shouldn't have 41 million people in this country without health insurance. that i won't compromise on. that's where it gets to who are we as a country and my own sense of what my responsibilities are as president of the united states. >> we're almost done. i have to ask you a little question you may not like to answer. this could be tough. it's an essay question. the qualities required of a president. vice president joe biden, former
secretary of state hillary clinton. compare and contrast. >> not a chance am i going there. here's what i'll say. both hillary and joe would make outstanding presidents. and possess the qualities that are needed to be outstanding presidents. i think joe biden will go down in history as one of the best vice presidents ever. and he has been with me at my side in every tough decision that i've made from going after bin laden to dealing with the health care issues to you name it, he's been there. hillary i think will go down in history as one of the finest secretaries of state we've ever had. and help to transition us away from a deep hole that we were in when i first came into office around the world. and rebuild confidence and trust in the united states. and they've got different strengths, but both of them would be outstanding.
i'd say the most important qualities of any president. i'm not necessarily saying i have these qualities because i'm speaking historically. i think has to do with more than anything a sense of connection with the american people. that's what allows you then to have that second quality which is persistence. if you know who you're working on behalf of, if you remember as lincoln did or an fdr did or truman did or a kennedy did, if you remember that person you met who was down on their luck but was a good character and was trying to figure out how they are going to support a family. if you remember that young child who has big dreams but doesn't yet know how they're going to get to college. if you feel those folks in your gut every single day, that will get you through the setbacks and
the difficulties and the frustrations and the criticisms that are inherent in the office. and i think, you know, the interesting thing about now having been president for five years is it makes you humbler as opposed to cockier about what you as an individual can do. you recognize that you're just part of a sweep of history. and your job really is to push the boulder up the hill a little bit before somebody else pushes it up a little further and the task never stops of protecting our union. perfecting our union. but what makes me more confident than ever is the interactions i have with young people like this all over the country who still believe in this country, still
are optimistic fundamentally about their futures, are problem solvers, are practical. the american people are good and they are decent. and yes, sometimes we get very divided partly because our politics and our media specifically tries to divide them and splinter them, but we've got so much stuff going for us that as long as any president stays close to the people, i think they're going to do all right. >> what i always thought was great you did in your early political career. this just my personal observation. because i love studying politicians. you lost that race to bobby rush and you got in your car and drove out in the burbs with a map next to you in the passenger seat and said i'm going to do this thing. how many kids here want to go into politics? >> that's a pretty good number. >> are they right? >> it continues to be a way to
serve that i think can be noble. it's hard. it can be frustrating. you got to have a thick skin. and i know it's tempting to say, you know what, why would i want to get in the mud like that and get slapped around and subjected to all kinds of scrutiny. and so for those people who say i'd rather serve in other ways through nonprofits or through starting a great business and work with people who are completely on my side all the time instead of trying to undermine what i'm trying to get done, i understand that. and god bless you. that's part of what makes this country great. you know, we're not completely government centered. we've got all kinds of folks who are doing great stuff all around the country. but i tell you, the satisfaction you get when you've passed a law
or you've taken an executive action and somebody comes up to you and says, you know what? my kid's alive because you passed that health care bill because he was uninsured. he got insurance, got a checkup, and we caught a tumor in time. or you see somebody and they say, you know, you helped me save my house. and i can't tell you what that means. it's pretty hard to get greater satisfaction than that. so for those young people who don't mind a little gray hair, it's something that i not only recommend, but i'd welcome. >> on behalf of the people who watch me every night and are loyalists, many of them to you, thank you for coming on the show. >> great to see you, chris. thank you.
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we're back from american university on the "hardball" college tour. we just heard from the president. now here with joy reid, howard fineman, and of course david corn. each of you, i've just been chatting during the commercial break. it's obvious you heard things that i didn't hear. i want to start with howard because you grabbed me. what did we see in the president, the man, the barack obama? what did we learn from him tonight about being president? >> first of all, i would like to say, chris, you and the students here from au got a once in a lifetime opportunity to see in person a president talking about
what it's like to be president, while he's actually president. now, he's gone from superman to cisiphus, a much more mature view and the more case for obama care. for you folks to consider obama care as a measure of community in america. that's what motivates barack obama. he knows it's tough -- >> and he gave it up. >> the last 15 minutes of this extraordinary were extraordinary. i've never seen anything like it, where a president kind of unburdened himself to you about why he's in the ball game. and i thought he made a very compelling case for his own decency, whatever the screwups were managerially, and they were real. >> and chris, can i say, i felt like we saw two interviews with the president. in the first half of that interview, you saw a man who is incredibly frustrated by what i think he sees as the smallness of the debate in washington. where we don't talk about the big things, the big sweeping issues that matter to the country, or we boil it down to petty fights, frustrated
incredibly with the republicans and with the media. but in the second half of that interview, i saw the guy that i first met in 2004, when he was essentially an activist, attempting to use politics to move forward grand issues, really big themes. somebody who really is, you know, in lead or in line with the way the pope feels about social justice. this is a guy who fought for social justice and that second half, i think you saw him strip away from the presidency, back to that guy. >> david, why did that happen? is it the bad poll numbers that forced him back to being, dammit, i'm going to be who i am. what got him here? what got him to where he was today? >> he was very self-reflective, as i think he is prone to be, but perhaps more so now in public. and i don't know if this is a negative spin on this, maybe because he feels even more frustrated, he's trying to get not to the point where he's giving up, but he's trying to figure out what he can do. he was very explanatory in this
interview. not a lot of fight. there's still a lot of fights to be had. even about saving obama care. but it was really stunning to me, he talked about persistence and the connection between a president and the public and that motivating persistence. but that's different than fighting. so -- >> you just defined -- >> but motivation, about why he would continue to fight. comparing politics to rolling a boulder up a hill is a little different from the way he began his life in politics, like with popping a champagne cork. this is tough stuff that he showed his own motivation. he said, i remember every day -- >> he's also -- guys, he's been there before. i didn't have to remind him of being in that car all alone, an african-american guy, heading out into the white suburbs and rural areas of illinois where a black guy's never won anything. he doesn't have a gps in the car, he's got a map on the passenger seat, i've got to discover illinois, after being beaten in a south chicago race. >> and after losing the 2010 election. remember that?
that was a tremendous blow, and he sort of reassessed his presidency and how he could move forward and started emphasizing, some of what he talked about today, the difference in values between him and the republicans. when he said, the government is us, that's like the grand slogan here. us because we come together to do the things that he talked about. >> did you see the other end of that? when he said, people who try to restrict minority voting? how can they claim they blame in american exceptionalism when they try to screw the voter out of voting. >> but he got back to the people, trying to do this collectively. you're looking at a president who's looking beyond what the presidency can do, and really yearning for people to recapture that sense of hope that they themselves can galvanize and try to work through. >> and don't forget, we're seeing him at a low point here. >> for sure. >> his approval ratings are way down. he's downtown, sitting there. he's got 3 kpaf years, as you say. what's the motivation?
what are his goals? where is he heading with this in the tough sledding he's got. and the viewers of "hardball" get a rare glimpse of how he's going to motivate himself as he moves through this tough political season. >> we'll be right back with more from american university in just a minute. you're watching the "hardball" college tour, the place for politics. honestly, i'm not looking for five-star treatment. i get times are tight. but it's hard to get any work done like this. then came this baby -- small but with windows and office. it runs my work stuff. ...and i can use apps like flipboard for news, or xbox video to watch the shows i'm never home to see... and i can still get work done at the same time. excuse me, do you mind if i...
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we're back from the american university here in washington, d.c., and the "hardball" college tour. i want to get a thought from you. bottom line for the president, what will you remember? >> i'll remember his deep belief in social justice, very much reflective of what the pope has said. >> isn't that great? >> as soon as you mentioned pope francis, the president kind of remembered yet again why he's dealing with all the complexities -- >> as opposed to what rush limbaugh said when he -- >> one thing to say, change you can believe in, but making change happen is hard. >> rush limbaugh called him a
marxist the other day. >> i saw a president who remains frustrated with the political media culture that he has to work within, and that he's looking to rally people, students here, and supporters, and people within the media. >> but david corn, you skeptic. he came to us today. >> which is what he's trying to do. he's trying to rally people behind this issue that he's been promoting for a couple of years. >> he did it the end here, today, chris, not by defending specifics, but by explaining why he's in the game to begin with. and i don't know about you, he's a professor, i don't know about what the kids at au think, but i thought at least at the end, it was extremely effective. >> and he didn't oversell the politics thing. >> he didn't -- you don't have to be pope like i am. >> he didn't oversell the politics. >> that's one way to serve. >> lots of good options out there. >> it sounds like he might have been talking to his daughters. anyway, thank you, joy reid, thank you, howard fineman and david corn. that's "hardball" for now. i want to thank everyone for
being with us tonight here. and thank you, president obama, of course for being our guest on the "hardball" college tour. and also to the american university for hosting us. good night. good evening, americans. from the north country in detroit lakes, minnesota, where it's below zero. this is "the ed show." let's get to work. >> solid hiring. >> steady progress. >> larry hein. >> mcdonald's corporation has well over the money to pay us what we deserve. >> they're protesting their salaries. >> we work too damn hard. >> waiting on that peer